An imposing red-brick retreat converted from a Salvation Army building, The Asbury Hotel is a creative’s hangout with a beach in reach. Upstairs, rooms are clean-lined and welcoming, decorated with bold monochrome posters nodding to the city’s rich musical past. Downstairs, the lobby bar is a watering hole for musos, moochers and socialites. In the summer, this laid-back bolthole becomes a gathering place for Jersey Shore’s bright young things, thanks to a beer garden, rooftop cinema and spirited pool parties.
Get this when you book through us:
A bottle of wine in your room and two free drinks at Soundbooth, the Pool Bar or Beer Truck
11am. Earliest check-in, 3pm. Both are flexible, subject to availability.
Double rooms from $130.00, excluding tax at 14.625 per cent.
Rates exclude an à la carte breakfast of yoghurt, fruit salads, parfaits, chia seed puddings and breakfast sandwiches (dishes from $2.50).
Expect welcoming, on-the-ball service: the hotel runs Salt School, an intensive 10-week hospitality course for the local community. The rooftop comes alive in the summer with yoga classes in the morning and film projections at night. With board games, a pinball machine, a pool table and a winter ice rink, there’s plenty here for unrepentant kidults.
At the hotel
Outdoor cinema, beer garden, ping-pong tables, music library, bicycles for hire, free WiFi. In rooms: flatscreen TV, air-conditioning, Malin + Goetz toiletries. All suites and Family King rooms have a Nespresso machine, an iPod dock and a fridge.
Our favourite rooms
Pared-down and light-filled, rooms at the Asbury Hotel have a pleasing graphic aesthetic, with bold patterned rugs and black-and-white photos of musical greats. If you’re still answering emails on your getaway, Deluxe Kings have a seating nook and a desk; opt for a Suite if you’d rather lose your train of thought in panoramic sea views. Kitted out with eight bunk beds, two showers and lockable lockers, Octo’s a laid-back hideout for a grown-up sleepover.
Flaunt golden limbs and breeze-tousled hair at the pool, a heated open-air number open in the spring and summer. Colourful cushions, sunloungers and swing chairs are plentiful, but you’ll have to stake your claim early if you want to lounge the afternoon away in one of the cabanas.
Keep things cool and casual for the beach (breton tops, denim shorts and flat leather sandals will do the trick), but pack a collared shirt or two, and some curlers and false eyelashes for an evening nod to Jersey Shore style.
The hotel has seven rooms equipped with wheelchair-accessible bathrooms, as well as rooms fitted with doorbells for guests with vision or hearing impairments.
Furry friends are welcome here: the hotel can provide dog beds, bowls and treats. They’re free to roam in the lobby, beer garden pool area and rooms. Pet stays of any length cost $75, half of which is donated to a local pet shelter. See more pet-friendly hotels in New Jersey.
Welcome. Ask at booking about having a free sleeping teepee added to your room.
If you’re just here for the music, grab a seat on the bleachers in Soundbooth; in the summer, perch high on a bar stool in Salvation for unbeatable views.
This is no place to wander around in flip-flops and baseball caps: Salvation’s dress code discourages sportswear after 9pm, so opt for something sharp and tailored instead.
There’s no restaurant as such, but coffee-and-juice bar The Counter serves home-made pastries, rustled-up-to-order sandwiches and colourful salads. Try the New Jersey pork roll, a carnivore’s dream of bacon, cheeses, turkey sausage and eggs bookended by freshly baked bread. In the spring and summer, the Food Truck makes a casual pit-stop for comforting staples such as gourmet hot dogs, burgers, fries and onion rings. There’s also the retro-cool diner in Asbury Lanes, where you can order cheese-topped burgers, pork roll waffle sandwiches and cast iron skillet cinnamon rolls drizzled with bourbon caramel-spiked frosting. More in the mood for munchies with your craft beers and cocktails? Share a snack of onion rings, tater tots or gooey French onion macaroni and cheese.
Plan to stay in for the night: the hotel wholeheartedly embraces Asbury’s music scene, a proud hand-me-down from the Seventies. Lobby bar Soundbooth keeps a packed calendar of events – a rotating roster of bands, singer-songwriters, drag-queen karaoke and open mics. Cocktails are tongue-in-cheek: try the Asbury Painkiller (the hotel’s take on a Long Island iced tea) or a fruity Tea Dance. Come spring and summer, head up to the eighth-floor Salvation bar for killer rooftop views and tequila-based tipples. Locally crafted, thirst-quenching beers are served from the Beer Truck – a converted Volkswagen camper van – in the seasonal Beer Garden (opening around Memorial Day).
Breakfast is available all day. The Counter is open 6am–7pm Mon - Thurs (midnight on Fri & Sat, 9pm on Sun). The bars open at 11am; Soundbooth and Salvation close at midnight (2am Fri - Sun); Beer Garden at 8pm. Salvation and the Beer Truck are seasonal.
The Asbury Hotel overlooks the green expanse of Sunset Park, just a block away from the city’s iconic seaside boardwalk.
A 55-minute drive from the hotel, Newark Airport is a major hub for international and domestic flights. LaGuardia and JFK are both an hour and a half away, though traffic and time of day can greatly affect travel times.
Asbury Park Train Station, a five-minute drive from the hotel, serves New Jersey Transit (www.njtransit.com) trains to New York City and Jersey City.
Valet parking is available for $20 a night (plus tax); there’s also metred and residential parking in the streets around the hotel. If you’re bringing your own wheels, get off the Garden State Parkway at exit 102.
Worth getting out of bed for
Pick a nickname (Fred and Wilma Flintstone? The Dude? Mr & Mrs Smith?), borrow a brightly coloured pair of shoes and prepare to bowl doubles, turkeys and the occasional hilarious gutter ball in the neon-clad Asbury Lanes. Barring the occasional music gig night, the lanes are open Tuesday to Sunday for good ol’ fashioned fun.
A historic resort town within easy reach of New York, Asbury Park has weathered downturns with plucky persistence. Its boardwalk pavilions, Victorian houses and a former seafront casino have enduring nostalgic appeal. Take a walk along the shore for a taste of New Jersey’s old-school pleasures; in the summer, you’ll find beach chairs and umbrellas for hire on the sands. The Silverball Pinball Museum is an all-flicking, all-blinking ode to the thrill of the game with 600 machines in rotation, some dating back to the turn of the century. In town, Cookman Avenue is a destination for must-try dining, boutique browsing and offbeat pastimes. Drop in at Hot Sand for a crash-course in glass-blowing or settle down in front of an easel with a glass of wine at Uncorked for a few hours of painting and sipping. Packed with classics, hard-to-find oddities and new releases, Hold Fast Records is a home away from home for vinyl enthusiasts.
Talula’s tempting pizzas are perfect circles of wood-fired goodness. The three friends who own this bakery-cum-restaurant may have started out with a backyard home-built oven, but their inventive sourdough concoctions leave little to be desired. Head to Bangs Avenue for some mouthwatering Mexican fare at the stylish Barrio Costero. Based on what he can find at local markets, chef Anthony Bustamante puts a creative spin on traditional coastal Mexican dishes. Book ahead for a sea-facing table at Stella Marina to savour charcuterie platters, home-made meatballs and perfectly crisp tarts.
The clue’s in the name at Toast, but griddled pancakes are on the menu too (we have our eye on the cake-inspired red velvet and carrot stacks). Cardinal dishes out hearty comfort breakfasts and brunches: order house-cured gravlax, a breakfast burrito and pecorino-dusted home fries, then spend the rest of the day in a blissed-out food coma. If you’re out and about drop in to Mogo for Korean-flavoured tacos and fried chicken to take to the beach.
No stay on the shore would be complete without a visit to The Stone Pony, Asbury Park’s live music venue famed for launching Bruce Springsteen’s career. Drop in for cover bands, up-and-coming local acts and summertime headliners. Beach Bar is the city’s see-and-be-scene hangout: rum comes in party-worthy buckets, and the people-watching is second-to-none.
When it comes to beachside escapes, I admit that Asbury Park, New Jersey wouldn’t be my first choice, especially during the off-season autumnal months when there’s nary a soul on the sand. But in dire need of a break from the frenetic pace of New York City, I skipped the airport lines in favor of a ride on the New Jersey Transit. In two and a half hours, I’d reached my shelter for the next two days: the Asbury, a new 110-room hotel situated on the northern end of the city’s mile-long boardwalk.
The first new stay to open in 50 years, the Asbury Hotel is synonymous with Jersey Shore’s inspired post-slump makeover. Taking its cues from Asbury Park’s rich Victorian and rock ‘n’ roll histories, this seaside hideout is as cool as it is cosseting. Anda Andrei – who designed SoHo’s 11 Howard – has worked her magic here, transforming the lobby of a disused Salvation Army building into a plant-filled hub for live music and sociable games of ping-pong and pinball.
My Superior King room, though smaller than I’d expected, sported an uncramped, modern design: white walls and bedding, simple wooden bedside tables, and minimalist industrial lighting fixtures all hewed closely to the ‘less is more’ mantra, while the surprisingly spacious bathroom – stocked with products from one of my favorite brands, Malin + Goetz – was a joy to step into.
The hotel itself felt quieter than usual – not unexpected considering the low season, and my mid-week arrival – but I knew this would change with the onset of the weekend (though certain highlights like its rooftop pool, and film series under the stars, wouldn’t return until the following summer).
There may not be a restaurant on site, but there are plenty of tantalising options nearby. A 10-minute walk from the Asbury will lead you to Cookman Avenue which, along with some of its off-shooting streets, has become home to a host of new restaurants. For dinner, I decided to check out Reyla, a modern Middle Eastern eatery turning out inventive riffs on classics – the fava bean falafel is one enticing example – and addictive rounds of fluffy, hot-off-the-grill pita, perfect for dipping in hummus, and soaking up the saffron-tinged broth from the mussels I ordered. There are plenty of small tables and a sizable bar for solo dining, but this would also be a great spot for a group too, especially with all the shareable plates.
Back at the hotel that night, a small crowd of locals and guests had gathered in the lobby bar area for a weekly open-mic series. One of the Asbury’s on-site cultural perks is its year-round events programming, along with an adjoining art gallery that’s currently showing a collection of works by rock photographer Danny Clinch (ongoing through the fall of 2018).
The next morning after grabbing a quick breakfast from the hotel’s downstairs café counter, I decided to take advantage of the quiet day with a yoga class. Fuelled up on delicious coffee from the brand Jack’s Stir Brew (a favorite amongst New Yorkers), and a tasty Greek yogurt parfait, I headed out towards Kur Wellness Studios, which offers classes most days of the week – walk-in guests are welcome – along with a menu of spa services. With just three of us in the class, it felt like a private lesson.
Determined to stay on a virtuous path until dinner, I tried out Twisted Tree Café, which easily won me over with its filling and delicious vegetarian/vegan/gluten-free lunch menu of salads, sandwiches, and baked treats. Given that it was a Friday, I had some work to finish up before officially calling it the weekend, so I made my way back to the hotel where I settled into the lounge area with another cup of coffee and my laptop.
There were a few other guests flipping through some of the large photo books decorating the brightly-colored space, while another tapped away on his laptop. According to the receptionist at Kur, the hotel’s lounge area can be quite a welcoming co-working hub for guests and locals alike – in fact, it’s clear the hotel is anchored in the local community: the graffiti on the walls is by local artist Porkchop, baked goods at the Counter come from Confections of a Rock$tar and fresh flowers arrive daily from a nearby florist.
Earlier that day someone had recommended Pascal & Sabine as the perfect place for a Friday night solo dinner. The chic French bistro had a warm, unpretentious vibe, and one fantastic happy hour: $5 dollar glasses of wine and a well-priced selection of nibbles.
I treated myself to an order of deviled eggs and shrimp cocktail while I finished some reading, and lingered over my glass of chardonnay. When I saw the squat, rotund burgers arriving at many of the tables around me, I was sold. Along with a classic beef style – funnily enough called the Mr Smith burger – the menu featured a veggie version, which was hearty and sating, and accompanied by a stack of exceptional fries.
The next Saturday morning, I checked out early for my train, just as the bustle from a wedding was picking up. The lobby hummed with guests socialising and greeting each other over coffee and doughnuts as more trickled in. It was the fullest I’d seen the Asbury since arriving, but in two hours I’d be back amidst the throngs of Manhattanites, and so I was even more grateful for that rare solitude and peace I’d experienced when I checked into this buzzing bolthole.
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